A top French official says Ivory Coast’s defiant leader, Laurent Gbagbo, is on the brink of giving up power.
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told parliament in Paris Tuesday that negotiators are, in his words, “very close to convincing” to Mr. Gbagbo to leave.
Other French and Ivorian officials said negotiations for Mr. Gbagbo’s departure are in progress. French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet told reporters that everything could be resolved in a few hours time.
Mr. Gbagbo’s army chief of staff called for a cease-fire Tuesday, as forces loyal to Ivory Coast’s internationally-recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, attacked Mr. Gbagbo’s last few strongholds.
Mr. Gbagbo is now believed to be in a bunker in his Abidjan home.
The incumbent president refused to leave office after Mr. Ouattara was named the winner of last November’s presidential election.
On Monday, U.N. helicopters fired on two Gbagbo army camps, the presidential palace and Mr. Gbagbo’s residence. France says its forces took part in the attack at the U.N.’s request.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the attacks were meant to prevent Gbagbo forces from using heavy weapons against civilians and U.N. peacekeepers.
Gbagbo supporters say the U.N. and French attacks were illegal and amounted to an assassination attempt against the incumbent leader.
Hundreds of people have died in post-election fighting, including many civilians. A top U.N. human rights official, Ivan Simonovic, arrived in Abidjan Sunday to evaluate the situation. The U.N. has begun investigating reported mass killings that took place in the western town of Duekoue last week.
The U.N. says up to 1 million people have fled their homes since violence began in December. More than 100,000 have fled to neighboring Liberia, with smaller numbers going to Ghana.
Mr. Gbagbo has ruled Ivory Coast since 2000. voa